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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common train driver expenses for:

    Phone, data and internet expenses

    You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs if you use your own phone or electronic devices for work purposes.

    If your phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you do not need to keep records.

    If you claim more than $50, you need to keep records to show your work use. For example, an itemised bill where you can identify your work-related calls and data use.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer:

    • provides you with a phone for work and pays for your usage
    • reimburses you for the costs you incur.

    You can't claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while you're travelling for work. This is because these are personal calls.

    Example: calculating phone expenses

    Violet is a train driver and she uses her personal mobile phone for work purposes (mainly outgoing calls). She is on a set plan of $49 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

    She receives an itemised bill from her phone provider each month by email, which includes details of the individual calls she has made.

    At least once a year, Violet prints out her monthly bill and highlights her work-related calls. She also makes notes on the itemised bill about who she has called for work – for example, her manager and depot.

    Out of the 300 calls she has made in a four-week period, Violet works out that 60 (20%) of the individual call expenses billed to her are for work and applies that percentage to her cap amount of $49 a month.

    Violet was only at work for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), she works this out in months as follows:

    46 weeks ÷ 52 weeks × 12 months = 10.6 months

    Violet works out her work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    Total work calls ÷ total number of calls = work use percentage for calls

    60 ÷ 300 = 20%

    Violet can claim 20% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:

    $49 × 0.20 = $9.80

    As Violet worked for 46 weeks of the year, she calculates her work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    10.6 months × $9.80 = $103.88

    End of example


    Example: work and private use

    Sylvia uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails, rosters and review online training courses when required. She uses her computer and the internet for private purposes.

    Sylvia keeps a diary for a four-week period, recording the times she used the internet for work and private purposes. Sylvia's diary shows 10% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 90% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

    $1,200 × 10% = $120 for work-related internet use

    If there was anyone else that accesses the internet connection, Sylvia will need to reduce her claim to account for their use.

    End of example

    See also:

    Repairs to tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim an amount for your work-related use.

    Seat covers

    You can’t claim a deduction for the cost of seat covers you use in your train for work. This is a private expense.

    Self-education and study expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education and study expenses if it directly relates to your current employment as a train driver and it:

    • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties
    • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.

    You can't claim a deduction if the self-education or study course:

    • doesn't have a connection with your current employment
    • only relates in a general way to your current employment
    • enables you to get employment or change employment.

    If your self-education and study expenses are deductible, you can claim expenses such as course fees, student and amenities fees, textbooks, academic journals and stationery expenses. You will also be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of any depreciating assets which cost more than $300 that you use for your work-related study.

    You can't claim a deduction for the repayments you make on your study or training support loan. Study and training support loans include:

    • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
    • VET Student Loans (VETSL)
    • Trade Support Loan Program (TSL)
    • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
    • Student Start-up Loan (SSL).

    While course fees may be deductible, fees you incur under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme and Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP) scheme are not deductible.

    If you have set aside a home office to do your study, you may also be able to claim home office running expenses, but not occupancy expenses. You generally can't claim a deduction for the first $250 of expenses for self-education.

    Example: Education not related to current employment

    John is a train driver but would like to start up his own transport business. He is completing a part-time course in Business Administration. As the course doesn't have a connection to his current employment as a train driver, he can't claim a deduction.

    End of example


    Example: Education related to current employment

    Frances is a train driver based in Lismore, NSW. She travels to Sydney to attend a two-day course on shunting, coupling and uncoupling. The course will improve her skills in her current position. Frances can claim a deduction for the course in addition to the cost of travel to and from the course, meals, incidentals and overnight accommodation in Sydney.

    If Frances' employer pays for or reimburses her for these expenses, she can't claim a deduction.

    End of example

    For more detailed information and record keeping, see:

    See also:

    Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreens

    You can claim a deduction for work-related use of sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen lotions if you:

    • must work in the sun for extended periods
    • use these items to protect yourself from the real and likely risk of illness or injury while at work.

    This includes prescription sunglasses and anti-glare glasses.

    You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the products if you also wear them for private purposes.

    Example: claiming sunglasses

    Harold drives long haul trains. He wears sunglasses to protect himself against the glare of the sun while driving the train. He also needs to wear prescription glasses while driving, for his short-sightedness.

    He buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare during day driving. He also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving.

    Harold can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses as they protect his eyes from the glare of the sun while driving the train. He can't claim a deduction for the untinted prescription glasses. These are a private expense as they do not provide protection from illness or injury while he is working or from his working environment.

    If Harold also uses his prescription sunglasses for private purposes, he will need to work out his deduction based on the amount of work-related use.

    End of example

    See also:

    For more train driver expenses:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 59080